Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vancouver Island Trip - Day 3/Emily Carr

Emily Carr is one of Canada's beloved and well-known artists. She was a rebel in her time, being born a true Victorian lady who decided, early on, that she didn't fit that mold. She travelled into the northwest and onto islands inhabited by native tribes and painted even when no one, not even her sisters, wanted to look at her paintings. She was born and raised in this house in Victoria. Before seeing her home and a good selection of paintings from the Victoria Art Museum, I had read the book by Susan Vreeland (The Forest Lover), which introduced me to Emily. But she wrote many books herself and I purchased Klee Wyck (the name the native people gave her which means Laughing One).

Emily's paintings changed when she went to France and returned. She had more color and was more bold. Some of her paintings in the museum reminded me of Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night for it's rendition of the movement of air. I can't show you the paintings I saw (we weren't allowed to take photos), but here are a few postcards I purchased - some of my favorites.

Blue Sky

Deep Woods

Big Eagle, Skidgate BC

One of the criticism's of Emily's art was that she didn't just "document" the native totems and artwork she saw but interpreted through her artist's eyes. Big Eagle is pretty well a documention but her work became much more colorful later in life and she would change colors in something that was grey, giving it a spark of green going to blue or purple - which wasn't "accurate" for historical purposes. She was an artist, not a photographer, and she painted what she saw. At the time, she was a rule-breaker and someone who didn't care for convention (afterall, what Victorian lady would travel the coastlines of British Columbia and make friends with native people?).

Here's the link to the Victoria Gallery:

And you can find more of Emily's work and her words by doing a search of her name.

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